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1704, "kernel of a nut," 1708, "head of a comet," from Latin nucleus "kernel," from nucula "little nut," diminutive of nux (genitive nucis) "nut," from PIE *kneu- "nut" (cf. Middle Irish cnu, Welsh cneuen, Middle Breton knoen "nut," Old Norse hnot, Old English hnutu "nut"). General sense of "central part or thing, about which others cluster" is from 1762. Use in reference to cells first recorded 1831. Modern atomic meaning is 1912, first by Ernest Rutherford, though theoretical use for "central point of an atom" is from 1844, in Faraday.
nuclei nu·cle·i (nōō'klē-ī', nyōō'-)
Plural of nucleus.
nucleus nu·cle·us (nōō'klē-əs, nyōō'-)
n. pl. nu·cle·us·es or nu·cle·i (-klē-ī')
A large, membrane-bound, usually spherical protoplasmic structure within a living cell, containing the cell's hereditary material and controlling its metabolism, growth, and reproduction. Also called karyon.
A membraneless structure in microorganisms that contains genetic material but does not itself replicate. Also called nucleoid.
A group of specialized nerve cells or a localized mass of gray matter in the brain or spinal cord.
The substance around which a urinary or other calculus forms.
The positively charged central region of an atom that is composed of protons and neutrons and that contains almost all of the mass of the atom.
A group of atoms bound in a structure, such as a benzene ring, that is resistant to alteration in chemical reactions.
Plural nuclei (n'klē-ī')
plur. nuclei (nooh-klee-eye)
Note: Nuclear physics deals with the composition and structure of the nucleus.